Oct 022019

In just two days we start putting together the layout for the OFHS Fair. The time has flown by- electrical leads, covers and 97 tables have been booked. Banners, posters and masses of other items are packed and ready for the set up on Friday. Maps have been prepared for the event so all can find their way around. The catering is booked, the parking is organised people are assembling to pull together all the elements of the Fair. The power cables have been checked to see they are good to go, the books are packed in their boxes, the CD’s double-checked, and almost all last minutes queries answered. Saturday is so nearly here and here are a few more tasters of what you can find at the Fair.

Military historian Captain Graham Bandy will be one of our stallholders, with his wife who is very knowledgeable in her own right and has a particular interest in the Women’s Land Army.  Our Fair would therefore be an excellent opportunity for anyone with military ancestors they don’t know much about to get some expert advice. You can bring along copies or photographs of any hard-to-interpret military records,  as-yet-unidentified family photos of distant ancestors in military uniform.

Dave Beames, will be in the hall with the other OFHS helpers, giving advice on deciphering wills. If you have a will that you need some help with please bring it with you.

Chipping Norton Museum are hosting a stall. Apart from the artefacts in the Museum, they have an interesting reference collection for the area- well worth talking to them if your family lived in that area.

The Census Detectives have a very straightforward approach to searching for a missing person. Start with the first bit of knowledge and then work through all the difficulties. However, you will need to know that you have to book a slot on the day, and then remember to arrive promptly. Like many of the stands at the Fair, they are very popular so if in need of their help, do go there first. http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/census-detectives/

New this year is the Crafty Genealogist. If you’re looking for a unique way in which to record your family history their stall is well worth a visit.

Finally- remember to bring some notes about your family history so you can make best use of all the help available.

May 062019

Ofhs members should think of visiting events to do with the 175th anniversary of GWR Didcot to Oxford railway line, Saturday 15th June 2019. Have a look at the following from the organisers of the events: –

Join us on Saturday 15 June for celebrations all along the Didcot to Oxford line!

The Didcot to Oxford Branch of the Great Western Railway opened in June 1844 and we’ll be celebrating its 175th anniversary with events at or near all five stations along the line – Didcot, Appleford, Culham, Radley and Oxford – on Saturday 15 June 2019.

The railway came rather late to Oxford, mainly due to opposition from the University which feared for the morals of its students. In particular it was very worried about providing undergraduates with easy access to London, where they might be involved in “improper marriages and other illegitimate connexions”. After several years – and two failed parliamentary Bills – the University finally dropped its opposition when it was agreed that its officials could patrol the station and physically prevent students from travelling to unsuitable destinations. Moreover, the Act of Parliament giving permission for the branch line stated that the Great Western could sell undergraduates tickets only to approved stations, and not to places like Ascot and Henley.

The opening of the line to the public on 12 June 1844 caused enormous excitement and great crowds gathered in areas adjacent to the railway. Thousands of people watched enthralled as the first public train arrived from Didcot:
“…one of those rampageous, dragonnading fire-devils … arrived at a sufficiently astonishing rate, and though gasping for breath and shining with heat, seemed to have turned not one hair more than was deemed proper by each spectator, even after its long and whirlwind chase.” (Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 15 June 1844)

Join us for an equally exciting day on Saturday 15 June. You’ll be able to buy a special GWR ticket to take you from one station to the next, and included in the price will be discounted entry to the Didcot Railway Centre. There it’ll be a special Steam Day, with locomotives which served on the Didcot to Oxford line on display. At Appleford’s steam-themed fête there’ll be a beer tent and barbeque; at Culham you can explore the 1844 Brunel-designed ticket office; and at Radley you’ll be able to hear story tellers relating tales about the village and the railway. At Oxford we’ll be based in Grandpont, very near the site of the city’s first (1844) railway station, and you’ll be able to enjoy rides on miniature trains, working model displays, exhibitions about the history of Oxford’s railways, and free guided walks to the nearby LMS swingbridge, a national Scheduled Monument.

Take part in our photo competition What does the Didcot to Oxford railway mean to you? from 19 April to 30 May. Fabulous prizes to be won! Further details at www.didcotoxfordgwr175.org/competition.html

For more information on all the celebrations visit www.didcotoxfordgwr175.org or contact Liz Woolley on info@didcotoxfordgwr175.org, 01865 242760.

Celebrations kindly supported by Great Western Railway, Oxford City Council, Greening Lamborn Trust, Brasenose College, University College, St Matthew’s Bridge Builder Trust , Oxfordshire Local History Association, Oxford Civic Society, the Railway Inn, Culham and Entikera Ltd.’

It looks a very exciting day.

Mar 112019

A new family history event takes place on the 26 to 27 April at Alexandra Place, London.  The event provides an extensive range of lectures, full details of which can be found via this link https://familytr.ee/lecture.

OFHS will be attending what promises to be an exciting event.  We will have our CD’s of Parish Records and Monumental Inscriptions on sale together with the full range of Black Sheep Books.  We will also be providing a search service to help find that elusive ancestor.  We look forward to seeing you.

Nov 122018

In case any members would like to come to this –

Exhibition (St Nicholas, Islip 11-5pm daily ) contains 40 laminated posters giving details of the 25 local people killed in action with photographs, Commonwealth War Graves Commission details, and biographies

(as much as known) plus 52 others who fought and survived with details of where they lived, worked and died, supported by photographs and newspaper cuttings including Robert Graves (lived in Islip 1921-6).



Oct 262018

Do you have a story and/or photographs or other items connected to women in your family or community who have done something pioneering in their lives?

The Rumble Museum at Cheney School is holding a digital collection afternoon to preserve these stories, memories, and objects. We are also looking for World War One and World War Two artefacts and storiesWe will record your story or photograph any objects and these will be uploaded to a national online database. The website will be freely available to anyone to use and will preserve these objects and documents.

Please come along to the school Library with your objects between 2 and 5pm on Friday 2nd November, 2018. We will have experts on hand to help to give you more information on the items. There will also be artefact-handling, refreshments and an opportunity to talk to members from the wider community.

For more information contact lorna@irisproject.org.uk

This is part of a national project called ‘Lest We Forget’ co-ordinated by the University of Oxford – see https://www.facebook.com/OxfordLWF/

Please contact us in advance with rough details of what you will be bringing along.

Details at https://rumblemuseumsuffrage.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/womens-suffrage-and-ww1-collection-afternoon-2nd-november/

Cheney School is at Cheney Lane, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7QH

Jul 042018

Hello all – news from BLHA

THE WILFRED OWEN TRAIL – Monday 9th July 10.30
Join members of the Berkshire Local History Association on a walk around Dunsden to commemorate the centenary of the death of war poet Wilfred Owen and the end of the First World War.
We will start at Dunsden Church, then follow the Wilfred Owen Trail to see the places where he lived and worked as a lay assistant to the vicar in 1911-13.
Optional pub lunch at The Shoulder of Mutton in Playhatch.
Length of walk 3 miles over level ground with no stiles. Please contact Ann Smith
membership@blha.org.uk or phone 0118 978 3430 to book a place.

Some recent e-mails received by committee members which may interest you:
From Dr. Rosalind Crone, Senior Lecturer in History at the Open University, to announce the launch of a new website with information on nearly 850 penal institutions which existed in 19th-century England, including around 420 prisons and 380 lock-ups.  www.prisonhistory.org
From Caroyln Sheircliff, about a new book, “The Escape,” by Mark Pennock Purvis.  It is an account of his experiences during the First World War in France, where he was captured and held as a prisoner-of-war before escaping.  He lived in Hungerford.  The book is available from Amazon.
From Marcus Clarke, F.R.S.A., who is interested in what may remain of the Langley Hurricane Factory, and in getting hold of material such as maps and photographs.  Please reply to Marcus if you can help.   marcus.hup@btinternet.com
From Rosie Whitehouse, a journalist researching the story of 30 teenage holocaust survivors who were brought to Woodcut House in Ascot in 1945 for recuperation.  Please reply to Rosie if you have information.  www.thejudahedition.com

David Cliffe, Chairman, BLHA.

Jun 122018

Hi all

Two upcoming events organised by Wallingford Museum:

Family Archaeology Day @ Wallingford Museum

On Saturday 28 July 2018 from 11am – 4pm, Wallingford Museum has organised another exciting Family Archaeology Day at the Museum.

Bring along your fossils to show our expert, Steve Head, who will be on hand to identify anything you might have found. Steve will also be able to show you some of his own fossil collection from around the world.

You’ll be able learn all about how archaeology is done from the experts and see the results of recent work done in Wallingford Castle. You’ll also be able to take part in some ‘hands-on’ work – pot-washing, identifying pottery, bones, shells, ironwork and much more. Then you can find out how to begin to identify the sort of pottery that helps to date the finds from archaeology, and even try making your own pots for fun! 

There’ll be a display of things found in past years in the Museum or courtyard, including the rare medieval chess piece excavated from behind the Museum which is now on display there! 

You’ll be able to explore the delights of the Museum – find the Roman skeleton, the woolly mammoth bones, spearheads, daggers, stones from the lost Priory; handle the cannon ball, search the ‘smelly-feely’ drawers, and complete a quiz sheet – plenty to interest and occupy the whole family!

Of course, you can also have a good look at this year’s special museum exhibitions where there is great interest in its ‘Treasures with Tales’ exhibition. Residents from Wallingford and the surrounding villages have loaned the museum a wide variety of fascinating objects, each with its own special significance – from exotic to fun to poignant! Visitors are able to follow the ‘Treasures Trail’ and discover these things for themselves throughout the museum. Each has its own ‘tale’ displayed and can be enjoyed by the whole family. The treasures are woven in amongst  other exhibitions which include not only the story of Wallingford’s Saxon origins, its great Royal castle, the town’s links with Agatha Christie, but also updates on the recent archaeology that is being uncovered by new developments around the town.

So there’s plenty of family entertainment for this special archaeology day! 

Entry is by Museum ticket at the door – £5 per adult (which gives unlimited entry until 30 November) but accompanied children are FREE.

Stu Darby


‘Recent archaeological discoveries in Wallingford and its environs’

Richard Oram (Planning Archaeologist at Oxfordshire County Council) will talk to The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society (TWHAS) about the ‘Recent archaeological discoveries in Wallingford and its environs’.

Richard has been the Planning Archaeologist at Oxfordshire County Council providing archaeological advice within the planning system to South Oxfordshire District Council and Cherwell District Council for the last 12 years. Prior to this he worked as a field archaeologist for a number of commercial archaeological organisations in the UK and the Republic of Ireland since graduation from Sheffield University with a BA (hons) in Archaeology and Prehistory. In his role at the County Council, Richard has an interest in all periods of Archaeology up to and including the late 20th century, and is particularly interested in transition periods such as the Late Iron Age to Roman and the Roman to Saxon period. He is also interested in transportation and trade links between settlements and how the infrastructure of the prehistoric and Roman landscape may have functioned and what evidence for this may have survived.

This talk will be held on Wednesday 11th July, 7.45 for 8pm, at St Mary’s Church, Wallingford. 

Visitors (£4) are most welcome.

Katharine Keats-Rohan


Jun 112018

News of a festive occasion open to all, sent by Sue Richards, of the Ascott Martyrs Educational Trust.

The Trust’s website is:

The postcode which will take you to the locality of The Green is OX7 6AB


In this centenary year of the introduction of votes for at least some women, 23 June is a day to remember those oppressed women from Ascott who in 1873 were punished for standing up to authority.

Join together on The Green to enjoy a fun afternoon of music and song, and hear more about the Martyrs, their families and life in the village at that time.

Beverley McCombs, a descendant from New Zealand and author of The Ascott Martyrs, will be here to tell the story – we would love to welcome visitors dressed 1870s rural style for the occasion!

At 2.30pm the textile wallhanging that a group have been working on since September will be unveiled. The textile is to have a permanent home in the church, situated opposite the main entrance door where it will provide a powerful and lasting reminder of the women and their experiences.

# Discover the Martyrs story for the first time or catch up on new research and local history
# Shepherds Crook present a programme of topical Cotswold folk songs and readings relating to the events of 1873
# Mark Pidgeon will perform two songs written for the occasion
# Teas in the church from 4pm
# Ascott Village Shop open for picnic fare, icecreams, drinks
# The Swan open for meals and drinks all day
# Beverley is looking forward to meeting you all and signing copies of her book
# Dress 1870s rural style – even just a token shawl or cap will add to the spirit of the occasion

It would be helpful if you could let me know by email if you are able to attend (suerichards@phonecoop.coop) so that we have some idea of numbers.


May 012018


Three items of news and notice of events from Wallingford Museum

Wallingford Museum – now opening Sunday afternoons

This year’s exhibition at Wallingford Museum “Treasures with Tales” is proving very popular. From 3rd June, the Museum will also open on Sunday afternoons (2-5pm) – and free entry for accompanied children continues!

The exhibition features a wide variety of fascinating objects loaned by residents, each with its own special significance – from exotic to fun to poignant  – or just beautiful! Visitors are able to follow the ‘Treasures Trail’ and discover these things for themselves throughout the museum. Each will have its own ‘tale’ displayed and can be enjoyed by the whole family. The treasures are woven in amongst our other exhibitions which include not only the story of Wallingford’s Saxon origins, its great Royal castle, the town’s links with Agatha Christie, but also updates on the recent archaeology that is being uncovered by new developments around the town.

Stu Darby



Wallingford’s Guided Historic Town Walks

Wallingford’s Guided Historic Town Walks have created much interest and now take place regularly on Saturday mornings, starting from the Town Hall at 11.00am. Walks last 1 – 2 hours and cost £5 per person.

These are general walks covering the rich history of Wallingford, but also touching on the links with Agatha Christie and ‘Midsomer Murders’. They appeal to residents and visitors alike.

Just turn up – no booking is necessary!

Philip Burton


‘From above and below – Inner secrets of Wallingford Castle Inner Bailey?’

Kevin Barton (of Landscape & Geophysical Services) will talk to The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society (TWHAS) about the ‘inner secrets’ of Wallingford Castle Inner Bailey.

In 2001, Kevin founded ‘Landscape & Geophysical Services’ to provide archaeological geophysical services in Ireland and overseas. In recent times he has brought his broad experience of remote sensing to assist communities in exploring their local heritage.

Much detailed historical and archaeological research has been carried on the Anglo-Saxon establishment of Wallingford and the Norman construction of the first Castle. The most up-to-date research has been published in three primary publications with significant input by volunteers from Wallingford Museum and TWHAS. 

Much has been learnt from the integration of the research results which have revealed that the Inner Bailey includes at least three halls and associated kitchens, a church and other buildings with a large garden area surrounding the church. There are questions still remaining about these structures and functional areas in the Inner Bailey which is the heart of the royal Castle. 

 Remote sensing with associated visualisation techniques can image archaeological features from above – in the air and below – on the ground. The talk will introduce the Castle and review the questions relating to the Inner Bailey. To address some of the questions, we will examine new visualisations of existing and recently processed airborne remote sensing data. Finally, with the help of TWHAS volunteers, some inner secrets of the Inner Bailey may be revealed in the presentation of preliminary results from a new remote sensing survey scheduled to be completed in the days preceding this talk.

This talk will be held on Wednesday 13th June, 7.45 for 8pm, at St Mary’s Church, Wallingford. 

Visitors (£4) are most welcome.

Katharine Keats-Rohan



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